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One more photo

I had to share this one last (auto setting) photo of Case at Bluebird Gap Farm (a free ‘zoo’) in Hampton, VA, just a few minutes from Brian’s parents house.   Brian and I  took Case and Claire there a couple of weekends ago (when it was actually really cold here in Virginia not like now when it’s 80 and sunny!).

You get what you pay for I guess (as the place wasn’t all that impressive, note I did not include a link to their website), but we did get to show Case a REAL cow, and sheep, and llama (not that we’re quizzing him on identification of llamas and their sounds these days, but the others we are) and so it was nice to be able to show him that those ‘things’ that we’re painstakingly making him identify over and over again in his books and puzzles actually do exist in real life.

He got a kick out of the goats especially and in the photo below he’s just been nibbled by the sheep behind him.




[Look at the happiness on his face in that photo.  If I could bottle up the joy he exudes I definitely would (mostly so I could give it back to myself when we’ve had a hard day or we’re practicing going up the stairs for the upteenth time!).]


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My birthday present and a trip to the ER

As a birthday present to ‘me’, Brian did the research and bought us a new camera.  The kind where the lens’ cost more than the actual camera itself.  The fancy kind.  He bought a Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D with a really big hunkin’ lens.

We have been spoiled by our resident  (‘amateur’) photographer, Erin, my sister-in-law, who dubiously photographs all of us with her own fancy camera every time we see her for holidays or visits.   But we decided, especially after a particularly memorable trip to the swings, that we’d like to be able to capture those moments beautifully too (the ones in between visits with Erin!) and however handy the iPhone is and however remarkable the camera is, it’s really got nothing on our fancy one (although the fact that I would never refer to my iPhone as ‘hunkin’ makes it a tad bit easier to always have around, besides the fact that it’s like an extra limb and IS always around).

And you’d think that a post about getting a new camera would be filled with lots of lovely photos of all those most recent beautiful moments.  Well, below are a few but I’ve taken them by purely relying on all of this camera’s fancy Auto setttings that make it pretty much impossible to take a terrible photo, while I try to make the time to watch the dozens of video tutorials my husband has loaded onto my iPhone, iPad, and computer (he says, so if you have any spare moments you can just pull them up and watch them – ahem, he really does NOT understand what I consider ‘free’ time).

Case at Long's ParkCase looking through tunnel at Long's ParkClaire in her activity thingy at Mor Mor's HouseClaire with Mor Mor at Gigi'sCase with GigiCase scared on mowerCase tickled on mower with DaddyClaire with momma at Bluebird Gap Farm

But, in his defense, I do want to learn about all of this cool new toy’s capabilities – because it has LOTS, and I can’t seem to find my way with just the 230 page manual (that I’ve been reading in my ‘free’ time).  Mostly because I really love looking back at them and knowing now that I’ll be able to capture the real joy (and fear) on Case’s face as he races around on the riding lawn-mower with his Papa or his Daddy, or capture Claire’s ear to ear grin and practically hear her belly laugh when her Aunt Erin throws her in the air, or see the love in the eyes of my Mom and Grandmother as they spend some rare quality time with their grandchildren/great-grandchildren. Being able to more accurately (and beautifully) capture all those moments makes watching those damn (dry) video tutorials worth it.

In the meantime, I’ll share some more dramatic photos that weren’t taken with the new camera.   Because when you’re headed to the ER holding an ice pack to a screaming two year old’s head so he doesn’t bleed everywhere, you’re not really thinking about grabbing that big ass new camera.  You’re mostly thinking,”self, please don’t pass out”.

Case with Momma at the ERCase with stitches (right after - note the sweat from being restrained!)Case the party boy in the ER waiting room (yeah, I'm pretty sure he's over his fall)

Case (inevitably) fell on Monday night and split his head open.  He didn’t trip over anything (just his own feet, as per usual) and didn’t get his hands out in time (as per usual) and hit the the sharp part of the TV speaker on the floor (all of this right before bath time).  So after a whirlwind trip to the ER with me and Papa (Omi stayed home with Claire and Aunt Erin)he was back at home in bed by midnight with four stitches.

As you can imagine, Case gets a little worked up around anyone looking even remotely medical (especially after our big stay in the hospital in January and emergency ear tube surgery) so having company (in Papa) to help distract/restrain Case was really REALLY nice.   In general, Case was a good sport (saying hi to any and all of his fellow ER mates) and now he’s got his first of probably many scars!  Let’s hope his hairline doesn’t take after his father’s and we might be able to cover it for a while.

‘Til something else dramatic happens, or I get my act together and start actually planning my blog posts – may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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I’m not Catholic, and I’m not even remotely religious (probably more on that later, too),  so the idea of me giving up anything for Lent is something that I didn’t really even think about until I paid attention to a few of my friends (who are religious) who are practicing Lent this year but aren’t giving things up.   They’re making Lent about just plain old giving, and changing yourself for the better.

They’re turning Lent into a time for self-improvement (perhaps they didn’t quite stick to their guns on 2 January, I don’t know) versus a time to sacrifice.  And, although some religious folk out there may argue that that’s not what Lent is about,  I think self-improvement is always a good thing.

So, in honor of my religious friends practicing Lent and trying to better themselves, I decided to take on a couple of similar challenges for the next forty days:

First – I’m going to write every day.  Maybe not post things on here everyday, but write  (and not just my ‘to do’ list). And my hope is that that will be good for not only me, but lots of other people too (including my children who will benefit from a mommy who’s doing something for herself).

Second – I’m going to floss.

That’s it.

I debated including showering on a daily basis as a third here (as hygiene is big these days), but knew that I’d really feel guilty when I broke that little self-promise-fake-lent resolution on day 2.  [Although it is nice to hear, “Hey babe, you smell clean today, ”  on a regular basis (yes, he’s actually said that to me – what a doll, right?)]

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I’m back, finally.

As my first post back since 28 April 2011 (um, wow, it’s really been awhile… how does that happen?!) I figured I’d post a few photos (easy transition, right?) to update all of you on our newest member of the family (using the word ‘new’ loosely here, people, because she’s 4 1/2 months old).

Making her blog debut, I introduce you to Claire Ainsley, born 2 October 2011 after a short (and natural!) labor.  She weighed just 5 lbs 12 oz and is now up to 15 lbs 5 oz.  She is in the 90th percentile for weight and 80th for height (so let’s just say she’s a little on the husky side…and leave it at that).

As her great grandmother put it (after spending a few weeks with us), Claire will never be second in line.  She is her mother’s daughter, both a fighter and highly emotional (the second trait being one of Brian’s least favorite in me) and she is a bright-eyed, chatty, young thing.  She rolled over for the first time yesterday (from front to back) which stunned me as Case didn’t do that until he was 8 months old.  She continues to amaze me every day both in the ways she’s different from Case and, of course, the ways she is the same (a post to come on that later). I could go on and on about her already but let me just stop and let some photos do the talking:






And it’s true what they say – the relationship you have with your first born is unique and always will be but the relationship you have with your little girl is also equally unique and I am in awe of the love I have for her and how it differs (every slightly) from the love I have for my son.  If being a parent has taught me anything (and it’s taught me, and continues to teach me a lot) it’s that a parent’s love is truly limitless. How is it possible I can love anything else as much as I love Case ?  Well it’s possible,  and Claire’s it.

So, welcome Claire and welcome back Caitlin (I often refer to myself in the third person these days so it’s not weird that I’m doing it on here, “mommy’s going to go to the potty”, “mommy’s running upstairs for the 14th time because she forgot a diaper, wipes, your shoes, Claire’s shoes, my shoes”, etc.) to the wonderful world of blogging.

I was inspired to return by a new friend named Nicole who I met through Case’s Early Intervention playgroup.  Turns out she’s not only a momma to some pretty adorable and special twin girls, but she’s a prolific blogger to boot (and she lives down the road – we both drive 40 minutes to this playgroup so it’s really a treat to meet someone just a few miles away!)  She offered up just the right amount of motivation I needed to sit down and get a blog post out (it also really helps that both kids are napping at the same time!)

So, thank you Nicole from (please check out her blog, I just spent the last half hour perusing her inspiring writing  – you will not be disappointed).

It’s good to be back.

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We’ve had a busy past couple of weeks and will continue to be busy until we move on 9 May.  But, after a good night’s sleep last night and a few great hours of packing sans bebe yesterday afternoon (Thank you, Auntie Lea!), I wanted to take the time to be grateful out in public (i.e., on here).  Here are some of the highlights of the past couple of weeks:

1.  Case is better!

His ear infection turned scary respiratory infection is finally gone (although we’re not quite finished with our antibiotics yet)

2.  Case doesn’t mind taking his antibiotics!

In fact, he loves it.  He opens his mouth like a little baby bird and sucks the stuff down.  I even tasted it, thinking I could capitalize on something that he likes down the road, but couldn’t quite figure out what it tasted like.. cotton candy? I dunno. Perhaps if I’m desperate I’ll break down at some point and feed the kid sugar water to urge him to do things (similar to the way I coerced him into crawling by putting Gerber puffs everywhere).

3.  We have awesome families.

After having spent the past few days driving up and down the eastern seaboard (from Fayetteville NC  to Lancaster PA to Bethlehem PA to Chester NJ to Richmond VA and back to Fayetteville)  you’d think I’d be wary of doing it again (especially with a sick baby), but I’m not.   I realized how truly lucky we are to have such wonderful, generous, caring, thoughtful parents and family members.  Here are just a few reasons why they’re awesome:

A.   We got to Lancaster and couldn’t stay at my Mom’s house due to damage they had from the tree falling on their house in those crazy storms a few weeks ago and so my Mom ended up putting us up in a hotel (which was very weird to do in your hometown) and instead of sharing a room with our 14 (oh my gosh, soon to be 15) month old, my Mom and Bill got us  his own adjoining room so we (Brian and I) could go to bed after 8:30 pm and watch movies in our hotel room (one of my most favorite things to do!).  Brian and I even stayed awake to finish the whole movie!  It may seem a bit trivial, but the little extra luxury of not having to be quiet and worry about waking up the baby if you go to pee in the middle of the night was a real treat!  On top of that, my Mom brought over a cooler and a bag of goodies for Case (food mostly) with the soy milk he likes, non-dairy sandwich bread, fruit and of course, his favorite peanut butter and jelly and some toys that she keeps at her house to make us feel more at home and not have to worry about shopping for dairy free food for Case.  Pretty thoughtful!

B.  On Saturday we drove from Lancaster to Bethlehem PA to have a luncheon with my grandmother (my Mom’s mom) and other family at her nursing home.  She is not doing well after battling Parkinson’s for 10 + years and taking a serious fall this past Christmas with resulting brain damage.  We hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving (wow!) and it was a real treat to spend some time with her.  She was able to watch Case crawl around on the floor with his cousin, Shannon, and she even recognized him (and us!).  It was so heartwarming to be able to see her face while watching them play and while holding Case, knowing it was really making her happy.  Her sense of humor is still very much intact and so is her appetite for chocolate (she received a lot of chocolate for Easter and ate most of it right there at the luncheon!).  When we walked her up to her room from the dining room,  we got into the room and she said,
“You’d better push the button or we’ll be in here all day…”

“Mom, we’re not in the elevator anymore,” said my my mom.

Mor Mor (what we call my grandmother, it means mother’s mother in Swedish)  laughs and says, “Oh, ha ha, that’s right, I know…”

And we all laugh.  She’s in and out of consciousness and when she comes back from delusions she sometimes realizes that she wasn’t making sense.  It must be so frustrating and terrifying and so it was just really nice to hear her have a hearty laugh about it.  I knew I got that coping mechanism from somewhere…

C.  We drove that afternoon to Chester NJ to see my Dad and his side of the family where we spent Easter.  My grandmother (we refer to her as Mama Wanda) made Brian his very own apple pie (one of his favorites) and my granfather made Case homemade applesauce.  Mama Wanda made Case his own dairy-free Easter meal complete with ham,  mashed potatoes and Swedish cucumbers and my Aunt Karen hosted 23 of us at her house (23!).  My Dad and Mark gave up their room for Brian and I and slept on couches downstairs so we could be close to Case who we put up in the spare bedroom on an air mattress on the floor.  We got to sleep on a luxurious Tempur-Pedic mattress (and slept like babies!).  We felt like distinguished guests that had been offered gifts and presidential suites.  A girl could get used to this kind of treatment…

D.  On the way home  from NJ we stopped in Richmond to pick up our, (drumroll please…) da, da da,… Toyota PRIUS that we received with a 0% interested loan from Brian’s parents (holy smokes, right?!).  When we got to the dealership, my sister-in-law, Erin, was there waiting to take Case to the park and play so that we could sign all the new car papers without worrying about him and giving Case  a welcome opportunity to get out of the car and play (we’d been in the car at that point for 6 1/2 hours).  Thoughtful as ever, Erin whisked him away and we got to drive to her house all by ourselves in our new fuel-efficient car (perfect for DC traffic and weekend trips home for Brian).  Erin then watched him while I went to grab dinner for us before we got back on the road and Brian set up all the new doodads (bluetooth, satellite stations) in the vehicle.  He’s a little sad to be trading his fancy BMW for a Prius, but he’s warming up to it and every day tells me at least 3 new things that he loves about it! Considering the prices at the pump (the ones that are likely to continue to go up), he’s even happier! We are so very lucky.

E.  As moving time draws near, so does the fact that we have to paint Case’s room from green (very green) back to white.  Brian’s mom has been a huge help, especially these past couple of months (coming down for weeks on end to help me) and she’s at it again with our move.  Today she’s driving down with boxes Erin found outside Ross (economical Erin is what we call her.. 🙂 ) and her own boxes, dollies, and moving supplies (after all she was a military wife for over 20 years and moved constantly!) and coming to help Brian paint the room, while Case and I head to Wrightsville beach (for one last NC beach hoorah) with my Dad and Mark.   She’s driving down to paint with Brian, then driving back home, then driving back next week to help us move.  All this in the midst of her own construction she’s got at her house getting hardwood floors, a new catwalk crawl space for extra storage (mostly because we’re moving in!) and painting all of our ‘new’ bedrooms there.  All that with a positive, go-get-him attitude.  I don’t think she sleeps, personally and am constantly amazed by her willingness to undertake big projects.  I feel good about myself if I’ve got all the laundry done and there’s dinner on the table – small peas.

F.  Finally, like I said, we’re heading to Wrightsville Beach this weekend (Brian will come tomorrow after he and his Mom finish painting) with my Dad and Mark, who very generously rented a 3 bedroom condo (again, so Case could have his own room – little does he know he’ll be sharing it part of the time with Auntie Lea 🙂 ) on the beach for us.  We went last year at this time (Case’s first trip to the beach) and it was a perfect weekend.  We’ll likely never come to this beach again (or any time soon, since we’ll be living at the beach practically and not in NC) so we’re really excited to be doing it one last time.  I’m grateful because we’ll be spending the weekend with my Sherpas (Sherpa #1: Dad, Sherpa #2: Mark – my nicknames for them as they haul all my crap around for me) and have one last get together with some very close friends we’ve made here in NC.

O.k., so needless to say, we are very lucky and we know it.  And writing about it makes me feel good and more grateful.  We are so blessed to have meaningful  relationships with wonderful family and friends who care so much about our well-being and only want the best for us and go out of their way to make that happen.   Thank you all for being such a wonderful support network for us!

And even though I don’t write about all the things I’m grateful for every day, please know that we are.  We are grateful every day.

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Sick baby, mommy-guilt, and the Army Health Care System

I’m sure all parents can sympathize with heartache you feel having a sick baby and even reading the headline feel a twinge of, ‘ugh, that sucks…’.

Case has been battling what we now know is another ear infection, but thought at the outset was just a bug (with fever), or a teething temperature (he’s cutting four molars), and allergies (as it’s prime time allergy season here in Fayetteville).

Last time I took him to the doctor for a temp (which, like this time, was sitting around 103 without Tylenol) and some congestion – they simply told me to continue with some Tylenol and give him some Benadryl (oh , and made me feel like a complete worry wart/first time mom/newb for even bringing him in).  So this time, I waited.  He had a temp for three days (and LONG nights…) and then it broke into swollen, red, watery eyes, runny nose, and a bad cough.  When the snot coming from his orifices turned yellow yesterday, his coughing was now accompanied by both vomiting(due to coughing so violently) and wheezing, AND we were going on almost a week of no sleeping (ahem, for everyone) – I decided that it was time to take the little guy in.

You would think I was asking to get some sort of crazy specialty appointment for the kid, at how difficult it was to even get an appointment, but finally, at 4:30 pm and after 3 phone calls, I was able to have him seen at the Acute Care Clinic at Womack (Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg) by a woman who introduced herself as Ms. Azeer (not nurse Azeer, not Dr. Azeer).  She proceeded to reprimand me for not bringing him in sooner,

“You know he’s wheezing, right?”

“That just started yesterday, but yes,”

“And, the infection in the right ear is pretty bad,”

(CUE,  despondent look up at mommy from Case and my heart sinking slowly…)

“I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to bring him in unnecessarily and we really thought it was allergies and the Zyrtec seemed to relieve some of the symptoms, not the cough, but…”

“You gave him Zyrtec?  He’s not supposed to have that until he’s 2!”

“I just halved the dosage, and called a family friend who’s a pharmacist to confirm, I guess I shouldn’t have..?”

“No, it’s too strong a medicine for a child his age and it says so on the box.”

Yikes.  OK, so now I know I should have listened to my mommy-gut when it was whispering to me to try to get him an appointment when he still had the fever, but the hassle of trying to get him in and then wait almost two hours once there for his prescriptions was, to be honest, really off-putting.  Especially, knowing it was quite plausible they’d just tell me to wait it out and continue him on tylenol.

In an ideal world, I’d have a pediatrician I could call (or better, text!) and have all my answers immediately and even better, if he did need to be seen, that same, reliable pediatrician (who happens to be a mom, herself) would come to us so we wouldn’t have to wait in the Acute Care Clinic for 30 minutes to be seen and then an hour and a half at the Army pharmacy to pick up his Motrin, Benadryl, and antibiotics. A girl can dream, right?

But in the meantime, and especially because I know how lucky we are to have affordable health care coverage, I’ll deal with the broken system.  I’m smart enough to know how lucky we are that I didn’t pay a dime for that visit (not even for his prescriptions) and that that certainly isn’t the norm.  Army  health care can be terrible, but is it better anywhere else?  We’ll soon find out…and what a timely issue, right?

Hopefully theses antibiotics will kick this infection sooner rather than later and the little guy will be back to normal so we can continue working, as we’ve lost a week  of PT and ST in this ear infection process (and the momentum we were gaining in those therapies to boot).

On an almost funny note, the real kicker of this doctor’s visit difficulty was Ms. Azeer’s advice on getting a follow-up appointment,

“You should call Monday to get an appointment for two weeks from now so he can be seen for a follow-up.”

Yeah, two weeks should be enough time to try to schedule that – hey, and  maybe I won’t have to call back two more times to confirm! Woohoo!

P.S –  Now that Brian is getting out of the military I finally think I’ve got a good grasp of navigating the military referral  and early intervention system  (good timing, right?) so rather than have all that good informatino go to waste I’m in the process of preparing a detailed post regarding that specific topic, especially explicating who you need to be firm with and who you need to be nice to and all those people that matter when it comes to being the best advocate for your child within the Army health care system (and beyond).  Coming soon.


I have to add a caveat to this post, as I’ve had many moms, pharmacists, and doctors who have confirmed just what my pharmacist-friend advised regarding the use of Zyrtec.  It is definitely OK to give children 6 months and up and dosage should be administered by weight.  So, there.

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